With the prospects of more and more of us having to work from home due to the actions taken to delay the spread of the coronavirus, following some simple tips can help make your time at home the most productive for you and your job.
After having my kids, I managed to land myself a part time job working from home. I thought all my Christmases had come at once – it was part time, flexible hours to suit me and working from home. Awesome! It meant I could go to every school assembly and do all the school drop offs and pick-ups. My Friday morning coffee with friends could still happen, great stuff!
Having never really worked from home I thought it would be very advantageous. I could load the washing machine up and then get back to the laptop, then hang it out, then back to it again. Dinners could be prepped all around getting my job done. So, the first issue I encountered was because I was still getting on with my life and working at the same time, the part time job started to feel like a full time one. I seemed to be working all the time because of all the breaks I was taking in between. Therefore, my first piece of advice would be to have set hours and stick to them. Especially if it’s a part time role. I found this easier to keep track of my hours and it was also better for colleagues to know when I was online.
I am a social being so one of the hardest things I found was the lack of social interaction. It wasn’t even a role where I had much telephone contact either. I could go days and only ever have the hellos and waves of adult contact at the school gates. I realised that as the years went on that this lack of interaction started to influence my emotional health. If you are a social butterfly like me then when you are working from home do, try to plan in some contact with others even if it must be just over the phone at the moment.
Use the technology at hand to keep up to date with news, events, projects and your colleagues. Still having a feeling of inclusion is important to maintaining an effective team when remote working. Emails, internal communication systems such as Microsoft Teams or Slack can all help. Stay in contact and get involved!
In terms of my working space, well, that used to be my sofa in my living room! I would scrunch myself up with my feet under my bum and work with my laptop on my legs. My paperwork would be on the coffee table and books and folders on the chair. It started to make me feel disorganised and that my work was always creeping into my personal life. So, I bought a desk and chair and created a specific space in my house to work. Whilst I appreciate not everyone will have the space to do this, I would recommend that if you must use a shared space then do make sure you pack everything away after each day of work. That way you can reclaim the space as your home rather than your office.
Whilst some think that working from home is a cushy number and that people use it as an excuse to bunk off, I found that I worked more solidly. Without the usual distractions of office chats and coffee rounds productivity can shoot up: to a point. I got lots done but without a break I was not always at my best. Take the time to grab a coffee, have your lunch or even go for a walk like you would if you were in the office. Breaks and rest can make us more productive!
Ideally you will need to have the personal attributes and skills that mean you should be able to do your job effectively from home. Things like:
- The ability to work independently
- Good time management
- The ability, through remote technology, to access materials you will need and speak with people you’ll need to speak with
- Being able to separate work life and home life
Whilst most of us may only be working from home for a short time if you don’t tick all the boxes above you should still be OK. But if you were looking at a more permanent home working arrangement then serious thought would need to be given whether you have the right attributes to work effectively from home.
Get in touch with our HR Consultants if you would like a Home Working Policy for your business.